Should my son start a dye-free diet?

Last month, my 10 1/2-year-old son — who has Tourette Syndrome and ADHD — was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  I felt he had a lot of tendencies, so I made a visit to a developemental neurologist. Sure enough, I was right. Just add Asperger’s to the list — plus a writing “issue”, graphomotor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the Center for Development and Learning, students with graphomotor problems are frequently called “lazy”, “unmotivated” and/or “oppositional” because they are reluctant to produce written work.

We have had our meetings with the child study team to go ahead with an IEP. We only had a 504 for 1 1/2 years in school.  His tics aren’t the main issue in school, it’s the concentration and the writing assignments at home (and hyperactivity once home — tics, too, but still mild).

With some advice from friends, I will try the dye-free diet.  My one friend’s son is much calmer since cutting out the dyes in food. I’m just wondering if anyone has tried the dye-free diet, and if so, what has been your experience? Any helpful hints? Favorite foods/snacks? Thank you!

Also, my son is not on medication. We just started multivitamins and Omega-3 fish oil capsules.


  1. Hi, my son also has TS, ADHD, OCD and Asperger’s. He also hates to write, I’ve been his scribe for years. We loosely follow the Feingold diet which goes beyond dye- no artificial preservatives, no salicilates, etc. I can’t say we’ve been strict about it because it’s hard to follow. We have some slippage but for the most part he eats pretty healthy. Eliminating dye is actually not that difficult – it’s all the other stuff they recommend you don’t eat that’s hard. That said, I do think it helps somewhat with behavior IF you stick to it. On a side note, my daughter has a friend that can be very hyper (she has no other issues other than what I suspect is ADHD). She stopped eating dye and adopted a healthier diet and I noticed a HUGE difference. She was much calmer and just easier to be around. I think it’s worth a try – worst case you’re just eliminating garbage from your son’s system :)

  2. I have had this question along with other diet restriction questions from parents since taking over the TSA Sacramento Support Group. There are some parents who swear by restricted diets but the majority who have tried them are not convinced that the minimal benefit is worth it. I personally do not do it because it is not realistic for my son to follow it. He wants to eat school lunches, join outside activities that have traditional foods and he has two separate homes shared by myself and his father. It is a personal choice you need to make and keep in mind that it requires a lot of planning and sacrifices. There are factors that could have been included in why the friend’s boy was calmer that should be considered in all fairness. Best on whatever you decide and a more importantly, a successful school year wishes as well! :)

  3. Hi, my son has TS, ADHD, and a graphomotor learning disability (dysgraphia) as well. Through our IEP, he will be getting weekly occupational therapy to help with the motor skills for writing. We have also been teaching hime to type (using software for kids) so that he can get a laptop-rype device to use in class so that he does not have to hand write assignments. These might be things you can look into for your son, too.

    As far as i know, specialty diets have not been shown to help with TS or Asperger’s/autism, but there is some research suggesting that it may impact ADHD. Artificial-color-free foods are becoming mor common, so it shouldn’t be too hard to at least give it a try for a few months to see if it helps.

    Best wishes to you!

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